Unionists accused over transfer tests

Education Minister John O'Dowd with Sinn Fein Derry City Councillor Patricia Logue.
Education Minister John O'Dowd with Sinn Fein Derry City Councillor Patricia Logue.

Unionists have rejected claims by Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue that they are more focused on maintaining an “unjust” transfer system than developing children’s education.

Colr. Logue said that with the 11 Plus, much of P6 and a significant part of P7 years were taken up in the past with coaching children within the classroom for the test.

Accusing certain unionists of using families as a political football, she said: “With the abolition of this unfair test some schools have continued to coach children for unregulated tests established by the grammar sector in order to maintain their elitist position. This could be time spent in improving numeracy and literacy, developing linguistics and languages or IT skills.

“The TUV and UUP are now critical that the Department of Education is warning schools not to waste valuable class time to coach children for these unregulated tests. If any other sectors within Departments such as Health, Justice, or Regional Development were wilfully ignoring guidance these politicians would be the first out screaming from the roof tops.”

A TUV spokesperson responded yesterday: “TUV will take no lectures from Sinn Fein when it comes to education. The current arrangements of multiple tests is a by-product of their mismanagement of the Education Department.”

UUP local spokesperson Julia Kee said: “The Ulster Unionist Party was not a cheerleader for the old 11 Plus, but to abolish it without a replacement mechanism for transferring primary school pupils was the height of irresponsibility.”